by Rod D. Martin
January 22, 2007
I have to say, today’s story about the possibility of moving up the Florida Presidential primary tugs me both ways. But there is a right answer.
First, Florida needs an earlier state primary desperately. Selecting party nominees in September is crazy, outdated, and greatly harmful to candidates’ ability to raise money and get their message out. It should move up; and likewise, Florida’s much earlier Presidential primary should move up as well.
However, the chief effect of frontloading more and more primaries is to make the Presidency a toy for the very richest candidates: the Clintons, the Bushes, the Giulianis, and no one else. I’m criticizing none of those folks in saying this. But honestly: isn’t it at least possible that someday, some time, someone ought to have a chance to get their message out who is NOT the frontrunner in February of the year before?
Having Iowa a couple weeks before New Hampshire, heading from there — a bit slowly, more slowly if you ask me — to South Carolina: all of this allows candidates to go to a variety of very different states and show their stuff without having to raise impossible money. This used to be spread out over months, and it gave people across America a chance to get to know the men (and women) who might lead them.
No more, especially not if California and Florida put their primaries on Feb. 5th.
It’s time for the Parties to step in. The old system was better, not least in that the old system didn’t require a vast Presidential field to announce two years before the general election. Rules changes — or even just enforcement — can fix much of this. And should.
At least that’s my opinion, speaking for regular Americans. I realize lots of social liberal fat-cats in both parties may disagree.